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NIRA Freshmen: 10 September Standouts

  • 01 Oct 2018

Colby-Sawyer freshman Bailey Burt / Photo courtesy Colby-Sawyer Athletics

There’s little time to adjust to the level of National Intercollegiate Rugby Association (NIRA) play, as the season begins immediately in September. For those first-years adjusting to new academic demands and lifestyles, it’s amazing that they’re also able to perform so well so quickly at the varsity level. Here are just 10 freshmen, listed alphabetically, who grabbed attention during the first month of league play.

RELATED: NIRA Recap & Rankings #6Women’s Rugby Scores: Sept. 28-30 Support TRB: Donate Today!

UBAIDA AHMED – Mount St. Mary’s … small in stature but potent with ball in hand, this Fort Hunt, Va., product leads the team in tries scored this season. It’s no surprise, as Ahmed was tabbed for multiple elite and select side teams during high school, and was one of 10 female high schoolers selected for the English Premiership scholarship earlier this year.

MACKENZIE BORCHERS – Army … One of several High School All-Americans to join the Black Knights, the Texan has made an impact in the centers and also added a trusty boot to the kicking options, especially as Bayleigh Gable recovers from injury. Borchers’ penalties against Life kept the pressure on the Running Eagles in a 19-18 decision last weekend.

BAILEY BURT – Colby-Sawyer … The Chargers are new to NIRA this season and as the league gauges its new member, one thing is certainly clear: Burt is one to watch. A product of South Burlington, Vt., the freshman front-row can also pull away in the open field. Burt’s scored seven tries so far and the former soccer player also kicks for points.

AUTUMN CZAPLICKI – West Chester … was a star soccer player at Life Mountain HS in Pillow, Pa., and the sheer athleticism is hard to miss (see photo below). Czaplicki scored a career-first against Brown and then tore away for three tries against Bowdoin last weekend to help secure the win.

ALEX DIMARCO – Army … Like teammate Borchers, this Pennsylvania product is a HSAA, but taking over the flyhalf position is pretty impressive, and she works with fellow freshman Kaitlynn Schwarting at scrumhalf. DiMarco’s had a good month, especially against Navy, and is balancing academy life with varsity rugby and a crucial decision-making position.

SOFIE FELLA – Harvard … has a diverse rugby resume that stretches from Shanghai, to the German U18 national team, to ARPTC and Atavus. Fella’s new home is in Cambridge and she’s comfortable fighting her way down the sideline, scoring against Dartmouth, Quinnipiac and Army so far this season.

West Chester’s Czaplicki / Photo: Doreen Madalian

SAHER HAMDAN – Notre Dame College … came out of Lakewood and is a well known entity throughout the Ohio select sides and Midwest Thunderbirds. As a HS senior, Hamdan was selected as the lone high schooler to play up with the Ohio U24 All-Stars and impressed the competition. Nothing has changed as a Falcon, scoring against West Chester (4), Mount St. Mary’s (2) and the lone try against Dartmouth.

MCKENNA HAZ – Quinnipiac … The Bobcats’ freshmen classes always feel so specially chosen and this year’s newcomers include two internationals in Haz and finisher Margot Vella (Australia). Haz was reared in rugby-rich British Columbia and there’s some familiarity there through North American touring sides. The Canadian brings stability off the tee and is flyhalf material.

EMILY HENRICH – Dartmouth … graduated Orchard Park High School as one of the best known U18 players in the country and hasn’t slowed at Dartmouth, where both parents attended and played rugby. Check out the profile that The Dartmouth wrote last week. Henrich makes an excellent center pairing with fellow freshman Sophie Ragg of England (Can you imagine if these two spend four years together!?)

ZYANA THOMAS – Brown … came out of the Land Park Harlequins in NorCal, the old stomping grounds of Brown head coach Kathy Flores. The tight-five player is explosive and powerful, as seen against West Chester, where a three-try performance also afforded Athlete of the Week accolades.

Who’s excited for October?!


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